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Fishing the Plastic Worm

When I was a kid growing up in western Pennsylvania, when I wanted to go fishing, I did what all the other kids did — I dug some night crawlers and went fishing.

It was in my high school days when all that began to change, and artificial plastic worms were introduced.

I thought it was a big joke until someone gave me a couple of Creme plastic worms, and I gave them a try one day at a local lake. I caught several largemouth bass even though I didn’t know what I was doing with that plastic stuff; I was hooked.

A lot has changed over the years with the soft plastic worms. For instance, they have become softer and more flexible, and they come in a great variety of colors and sizes. Other innovations included the introduction of an assortment of different scents to help entice more strikes. Also, the way you fish plastic worms has evolved over the years since new types of rigs and presentations have evolved.

Probably one of the earliest worm tactics was the Texas Rig. To tie this rig, slide a cone sinker onto the end of your line and then tie on a long-shank hook of an appropriate size; there are a variety of hooks, including weedless for rigging plastic worms. You make this presentation weedless by pushing the hook down into the head end of the worm and back out again in about a half inch. Turn the hook and push it back up into the worm and parallel to the back; push the hook point just slightly into the back of the worm to make it weedless. To keep the cone sinker from sliding up the line, I stick the end of a wooden toothpick into the top and break it off. This rig can be fished in shallow or deeper water and even around structures and weed edges.

The Carolina Rig is similar to the Texas Rig but with some important differences. With this rig, the slip-sinker is placed above a snap swivel so it can’t drop down to the worm, and an 18-36-inch leader is attached to the business end. You can rig the worm with a hook similar to the Texas Rig. The whole point of this rig is to get the worm up off the bottom and just above the weeds, and for that reason, a buoyant worm is often used. The sinker gets the rig down, but the worm rides higher in the water.

Another rig which has been gaining in popularity is the Drop-shot Rig. With this technique, a swivel is placed at the end of your line, and then an additional desired length of line is added below the swivel. A bell sinker or similar type of weight is placed at the end of the added line, and your plastic worm is attached higher at the swivel. This rig gets down quickly with the weight on the bottom, but the worm rides higher above weeds or other structures where it remains visible as it is jigged in that location.

Finally, another rig that I have referred to in past stories is the one known as the Wacky Rig, and “wacky” is a good name for it since it looks like something a little kid put together. A wacky worm is generally a little shorter than a regular worm and blunter at both ends, and what’s so different is the way it’s hooked; the 3/0 or 4/0 hook is simply pushed up through the middle of the worm — that’s it. A split shot can be added somewhere above the worm for deeper water and to get down quicker. I like to put an O-ring or a slice of a tube jig in the middle of the worm and then run the hook through that since it helps to keep the worm from breaking apart with multiple hits. If needed, you can also use weedless hooks. This rig should be fished slowly, stirring up the bottom as it’s jigged, and then left to settle again.

It’s also possible to fish a worm with a simple mushroom jig head; simply push the hook in the appropriate length, and you are ready to go. Obviously, there are a lot of approaches to fishing the plastic worm, and these same techniques also apply to plastic lizards and creature baits.

The point is they all work at one time or another; the problem is finding the time to go out and make it happen.